WEDDING OF THE YEAR!
This wedding was to be Lara and Justin's third and (final?) chapter of their wedding adventures. Lara grew up in Asheville, North Carolina and has always wanted a wedding at the historic and famous Biltmore Estate. Well, that's exactly what she got...on the 4th day of the ultimate, action-packed, week-long, OG LOVE FEST!
DAY: BRIDAL FALLS
On the first day of this ultimate journey, Lara and Justin rented a 15-passenger van, stuffed in the first round of the gang that arrived in Asheville, and drove us all to a popular hiking spot called Turtle Back Falls, a swimming hole and natural rock water slide in the Pisgah National Forest, a real deciduous heaven. Since the waters and current were too rough because of the recent rains, we decided to hike to Rainbow Falls aka Umbrella Falls, a 150ft waterfall about a quarter-mile downstream. This spot even has a rope someone has tied onto a tree to help you climb the small cliff to the top of the falls for a thrilling jump over the 20-foot drop of the curved rock face...
Everyone (ok, except for me and a few others) jumped off that 20-ft cliff and into the water! We had no cause for concern until Lara (OUR BRIDE!) slipped as she was preparing to propel herself off the rock as she jumped and landed almost too close to the rocks. We all held our breath until she surfaced in one piece! That was TOO close! We can't possibly lose the bride on our first day off. However, this is how good stories are created. From this moment forward, we now dub thee; BRIDAL FALLS.
After this cliff-jumping adventure, we all dined at Canyon Country, the perfect place for a lovely summer dinner in the south!
Day 2: Boho-Themed Rehearsal Dinner
For some pre-Big Day Zen Day action, us ladies got our spa on at the Grove Park Inn Spa while the gentlemen played golf at the Biltmore Forest Country Club. After, we all met on the Sunset Terrace at the Grove Park Inn for a nice lunch where Lara was greeted by more of her wedding guests arriving into town.
Later that evening, we donned our finest "farm" attire and headed south to Fletcher, where Lara's cousin owns the land which houses a venue called Taylor Ranch for Lara and Justin's wedding rehearsal. This place is SO southern and SO beautiful, it's magical! It's on a lake, with a mini forest that gives you a whimsical firefly show when the sun goes down.
What would a rehearsal wedding on a lake, on a farm be without the ultimate petting zoo?! We had access to piglets, baby bunnies, chickens, and even a dolled up wedding llama!
As the sun began to set, everyone took their seats for supper on the lake for some buffet-style southern BBQ! (What else?!)
DAY 3: BRIDAL SHOWER LUNCHEON TEA PARTY & NILE FLOATILA BOOZE CRUISE
After Lara's bridal shower by the pool, all 30 or so of us got dressed up in our best Egyptian garments and headed toward the river!
Let me explain this real quick so you understand the Egyptian theme - the only two rivers in the world that flow north are the Nile River and the French Broad River. When Lara plans, she plots! This obviously wasn't about to be just any ordinary booze cruise. It was an intertubing-tubular-barhopping journey on what would become a day we will never forget...
Let's tie 30 giant innertubes together with rope and float down this river on them while drinking champagne...what could go wrong?!
Apparently, a lot could go wrong! We could, for instance, get caught in the middle of a wall of an overpass which resulted in every last one of us becoming absolutely shipwrecked as the strong current pulled all of us under and popped almost all of the floaties as they snagged on a dam underneath that overpass!
This was incredibly dangerous and we got very lucky that the most we lost were maybe a few phones, some floaties, and some flipflops....OH, AND MY 70-200mm LENS! The waters are only 2-5ft deep, however, the current is VERY strong and the rocks underneath are so slippery that you can't gain any traction in your bare feet...and some of us were in heels! Don't look at me like that. Water shoes don't go with this costume!
Luckily, after the wreck, we made it to our destination to keep the party going, which was conveniently very close to where we all crashed. We laughed about this over cold beers and margaritas. I'm sure nothing could have prepared the bar staff for a large group of half-naked, soaking wet people dressed as Egyptians to take over their bar!
Day 4: THE OG LOVE FEST!
Here it is! The big day! We had 3 big days before this one, but this was THE day where we all dressed up as American royalty to celebrate the love of Lara and Justin at this great historic estate!
Lara and Justin's custom-made wedding bands.
It was POURING rain outside at the time of the First Look so we had no choice but to arrange it indoors in the hotel lobby.
...and then just like that, the rain stopped for just the right amount of time to go outside for some insanely gorgeous bride and groom portraits with a spectacular view of the Biltmore Forest, and the fog steaming off the treetops! We don't get this in LA!
Right around this time, the Biltmore shut its doors to visitors and tourists to begin the wedding festivities for Lara and Justin's ceremony on the front lawn...yes, that great wide front lawn of the Biltmore Estate! Naturally, we had to do a shoot with this Excalibur! How often do you have this car and the Biltmore Estate all to yourself?!
Since the wedding was held in the Biltmore Forest, Lara designed her wedding reception to be of classical magical forest theme paired with "weird" non-traditional undertones...
During the dancing, wedding guest Mike Smith of the Gorillaz did what he does best and gave Lara and the party a treat to some brass sax.
At the closing of the reception, the DJ played "Innerbloom" by Rufus which tied the entire dance floor together unlike anything I have ever witnessed in my life. And I've been on a lot of dance floors. Everyone who attended this wedding is family to Lara and Justin. Anyone can tell just by looking at them. But during this moment, it was FELT.
You know you've got something special when your friends completely circle you on the dance floor, singing and dancing with you in total and absolute unity...